Friends of the Earth (Birmingham) Ltd.
Annual General Meeting
7.00pm, Monday 19th July 2021 by Zoom
Present: Ben Mabbett (BM – Chair); Richard Bickle (RB – Secretary); Karen Leach (KL – Strategic Development Manager); Libby Harris (LH – Campaigns Support Worker); Nick Whittingham (NW – Finances) and 20 other members.
- Apologies for absence were recorded from Julien Pritchard and Chris Crean.
- Minutes of the AGM held on 14th December 2020 were agreed as a true and fair record.
- There were no matters arising from the minutes of 14th December 2020.
- Receiving the Annual Report and Accounts to 31/1/2021
(a) Warehouse Report
KL gave an overview of activities in the building during the year and since the last AGM including the departure of Well Rooted Wholefoods and Let’s Grow Together, and the arrival of Alleways Vegan Confectionery, Vesta Sustainable Living, Ingeus (training and rehabilitation) and Acorn (tenants’ and community union).
Growing out of the Solidarity Kitchen that operated during the pandemic lockdowns, SolCafe had started a volunteer-run operation in the café space while the Warehouse Café wasn’t operating and Digbeth Community Garden had continued to provide a welcome outdoor space for people to meet and work in.
KL asked for thanks to be recorded to Jake, Adam and the community garden volunteers, and to the maintenance volunteers who had enabled the fabric of the building to be maintained and improved during the year.
Toqueer Ahmed Quyyam asked that thanks be recorded to KL for her work during the year.
(b) Campaigns Report
LH introduced the campaigns activities that had taken place during the year. Air pollution and transport campaigns had focussed on the implementation of the Clean Air Zone which had attracted significant media interest. In the coming year the COP26 conference in Glasgow would provide a focus for climate change campaigning.
Nature campaigns had concentrated on issues of tree cover, particularly in urban areas.
Waste campaigns had continued to concentrate on the issue of the Tyseley incinerator, the largest single source of carbon emissions in the city. Supported by a grant from the Midcounties Co-operative Society’s Campaigns Fund, this had included working in an alliance with other groups opposed to the operation and renewal of the facility, producing a briefing paper and lobbying councillors.
LH thanked all the volunteers for their work and support on campaigns during what had been another difficult year as a result of Covid restrictions.
Toqueer Ahmed Quyyam asked that thanks be recorded to LH for her work during the year.
(c) Finance report
NW and RB introduced the financial report for the year. A question was raised about the way that turnover was recorded in the accounts and whether this could be done more clearly in future. NW said that this would be explored for future years.
A question was raised about fundraising and regular giving. RB responded that regular donors generated approximately £650 each month. A suggestion about using LinkedIn for online fundraising was referred to the fundraising working group.
Caroline Hutton thanked RB and NW for the clear explanation of the accounts.
That the meeting receives the Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 31st January 2021. Proposed by KL, seconded by Bernard Parry and carried with one abstention.
- Exemption from Audit for the coming year
RB introduced the proposal to exempt the society from the need for formal audit, but confirmed that the accounts would be independently examined. It was noted that independent examination was a service that BVSC offered to its members (although they were mostly registered charities).
That the accounts for the year ended 31st January 2022 would be exempted from formal audit. Proposed by Bernard Parry, seconded by Lesley Bradnam and carried unanimously.
- Election of Directors
RB confirmed that there were vacancies for two members to serve on the board until the close of the 2022 AGM and four members to serve until the close of the 2024 AGM.
Nominations had been received from Bernard Parry and Emma Howard, each of whom requested to only serve until the 2022 AGM, and from Hilary Peacock and Allan Norman.
RB advised that the nominations could be voted on together rather than individually if the members were willing to do it that way.
To declare elected Bernard Parry and Emma Howard to serve until the close of the 2022 AGM, and for Hilary Peacock and Allan Norman to serve until the close of the 2024 AGM. Proposed by KL, seconded by Philippa Webster and carried with two abstentions.
Thanks were recorded to Ben Mabbett, Karen Leach and Cath Palgrave who were standing down from the board at the end of the meeting.
- Proposal not to pay interest on Share Capital for the year to 31st January 2021
RB introduced a proposal to not pay interest on share capital for the year to 31st January 2021. It was noted that the society was still in a time of flux as a result of the Covid pandemic and had received significant government financial support during the year.
A question was raised about withdrawals of share capital and it was confirmed that the society did have the cash resources to meet a limited number of withdrawal requests which would be considered in the order in which they were received.
A question was raised about the terms of the original share offer. RB referred to the projections made and the trading experience in recent years.
Not to pay interest on share capital for the year ended 31st January 2021. Proposed by Caroline Hutton, seconded by KL and carried unanimously.
- Questions and answers
A question was raised on the business rates payable on the building. KL responded that the society received discretionary rates relief as a social enterprise.
A question was raised on festivals activity during the current year and KL responded that only End of the Road was planned and may yet be cancelled.
Bernard Parry asked that thanks be recorded to RB and NW for their work on the finances.
The meeting closed at 8.10pm.